Assistant AG forced to choose between prosecutor job & military - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Assistant AG forced to choose between prosecutor job & military

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - An assistant attorney general is under investigation by the Guam Bar Ethics Committee as his service to the island and country as a member of the Guam Army National Guard is being called into question. The AG's Office believes the law prohibiting the dual service is inorganic.

While he's normally presenting the government's case in criminal cases, Assistant AG Jonathan Quan now finds himself having to defend his decision to work for the Department of Law while also choosing to serve our island and our country as a captain in the Guam Army National Guard, where he serves as a judge advocate.

Quan recently learned that his dual employment has become the subject of an ethics investigation. Guam law prohibits members of the Department of Law from practicing law outside of the Office of the Attorney General. "Frankly, we thought it was clear - which is why we were shocked to see this action being taken," noted Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas. "It's just striking to me that something like this could happen to one of my staff." When KUAM News asked what his reaction to the situation was, he responded, "'Appalled' is a good word."

The budget law in September 2011 amended the law and allows an assistant AG to serve in the Army, Air Force and Navy Reserves, but not the Guam Army/Air National Guard. Rapadas said, "I think that is unconscionable. I think that is something the Legislature did not intend when they enacted this law in the first place."

In fact, the AG issued a legal opinion and found that the provision is faulty, saying, "First of all it was improperly enacted and it suffered from organicity problems and constitutional problems and also the supremacy clause issue."

Quan, who declined an interview, signed a seven-year commitment to serve in the military and because of this law, he is forced to choose between serving his country or performing his calling and keeping his job. He wrote in a letter to lawmakers that if push comes to shove, he will choose service to his country and island.

AG Rapadas meanwhile says he will fight to keep Quan on staff, saying lawmakers can amend the law to make the dual employment legal so no staffer will ever have to choose between their job as an assistant AG and the military. He stated, "The only thing we see is that the ethics prosecutor trying to preclude a member of my office, an attorney of our office from serving our nation and Guam as a soldier, as a captain in the Army Guard.

"If they thought that this was over, it's not over, we're going to take this to the end."

We should note that the AG's Office raised concerns about the language of the law back in July of last year expressing concerns about the organicity and constitutionality of the law. Despite the AG's legal opinion, the Guam Bar Ethics Committee and Prosecutor Bruce Bradley continue to proceed with the investigation.

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